Best American Heavy Bomber of WW2

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by carman1877, Nov 6, 2009.

?

Best US heavy bomber of WW2

  1. Consolidated B-24 liberator

    20 vote(s)
    48.8%
  2. Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

    21 vote(s)
    51.2%
  1. carman1877

    carman1877 Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Posted a poll like this before, but wanted to focus on just the United States. Which of these US heavy bombers do you think was the best based on bombload, defensive armament, electronics, engines, etc.?

    1. B-24 Liberator
    2. B-17 Flying Fortress

    The reason I left out the B-29 is becuase it is cleary the best out of not just the US bombers but of all the heavy bombers of WW2.
     
  2. carman1877

    carman1877 Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    To make it a discusion, anyone want to explain why they picked a certain bomber? Again focus on things such as dfensive armament, bombload, et.
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    12,631
    Likes Received:
    309
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Id take the B24 over the B17.

    1) Far easier to mass produce

    2) Better airframe to accommodate the ASW role

    3) Larger bomb bays and better range as compared to the B17.
     
  4. paradoxguy

    paradoxguy Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Occupation:
    Pediatric gastroenterologist (recently disabled)
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    I pick the B-17 Flying Fortress for the following reasons:

    1. Heavier defensive armament.
    2. More rugged and durable - often able to absorb more damage and still return to base.
    3. With #1 and #2, still had comparable performance (speed, range) to the Liberator, and some sources indicate the B-17 had a higher service ceiling.
    4. With #1 and #2, B-17 had comparable bomb load, but varied considerably with range for both bombers.

    This comparison raises a question in turn for me--the B-24 does not seem to have a clear advantage over the B-24 (unless of course, my facts are wrong), so why did the US employ both bombers? The Liberator was the newer of the two bombers, did it not fulfill performance expectations?

    PG
     
  5. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Messages:
    7,636
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    niagara falls
    I can't come up with a single reason to choose the B17 over the Lib
     
  6. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    12,631
    Likes Received:
    309
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    paradoxguy, as ceiling goes up, bomb accuracy goes down. Flying high might be good in cutting your losses, but at what point is it counter productive to be so high and not damage your target that 2nd and 3rd missions are needed to do the job?
     
  7. paradoxguy

    paradoxguy Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Occupation:
    Pediatric gastroenterologist (recently disabled)
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    True that, I was looking at ceiling in isolation as a performance parameter without putting it in context of a bombing mission. Just asking for my edification, did the Liberator-equipped groups have better bombing accuracy than the ones which flew Fortresses?
     
  8. paradoxguy

    paradoxguy Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Occupation:
    Pediatric gastroenterologist (recently disabled)
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Could you provide some reasons why you would prefer the Liberator? Again, just asking for potential edification.
     
  9. RAF Liberators

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    IT Consultant
    Location:
    Englishman in NZ
    Home Page:
    Depends what Airforce you are talking about. The Commonwealth squadrons used them at much lower levels so the ceiling didn't matter. I must say I've never heard of a B-17 that had as high an altitude as a MKVI Liberator, unless you are talking about the early Libs?
    Anyone else getting Dejavu here?
     
  10. carman1877

    carman1877 Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Just to state some reasons that I chose the B-24:

    1. Bomb bay doors roll up on sides to reduce drag and keep high speed over target, unlike the B-17 which had to slow down on bomb run.
    2. B-24 Divided bombay allowed it to carry many different types of bombs.
    3. tricyle landing gear which was safer, and more reliable.
    4. The tail design made it harder for an ememy fighting to disable the tail rudder. It also gave the dorsal gunner a better view of the rear of the aircraft.
    5. Easier to mass produce, 1 every 55 minutes at its peak.
    6. Ball turret could be retracted when not in use to reduce drag, and increase survivability of the turret, and the ball gunner.
    7. longer range than the B-17
     
  11. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    I LIKE the B-17 far more than the 24 but the B-24 was more versatile, longer range and equal firepower - perhaps better with four manned power turrets.

    Until the combination of chin turret and cheyenne tail guns - both with hand managed computing gunsights - then the B-17 might get a slight nod as hand/foot coordination not required for those installations as they were for all B-24 turrets..

    As for speed, the B-24 was slightly faster inbound and the B-17 was faster outbound. The ceiling of the B-17 made it slightly less susceptible to flak and tougher on fighter interception - but the payload and range was a huge plus for the B-24's capability to operate everywhere the US fought, including long range maritime missions.
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    In the last several months of the war several Lib groups were at the top of bombing accuracy for the 8th AF.

    Having said that, so many ops in winter 1944 through VE Day were flown with 10/10 cloud cover and blind radar bombing was the rule rather than exception - which is also why the RAF achieved better results in 1945. They were simply better at it.

    I have talked about the differences with many Lib/Fort pilots several having flown combat ops in both. Their consolidated opinions were a.) the Fort was easier to fly at all altitudes and particularly above 20,000 feet, b.) the B-17 was a more stable bombing platform above 22,000 feet, c.) the B-17 was faster above 25,000 feet, d.) the B-17 had a higher ceiling - with primary comparisons made between B-17F/B-24D and B-17G/B-24J.

    The B-17G had an aft cg problem that had to be carefully managed until bombs unloaded - but not unmanageable. E.G. On takeoff with max normal load (5,000lb-shorter range target like Misburg) all the aft crew huddled in the radio compartment until the airplane was in formation. IIRC this became SOP after 1943 anyway.

    The B-24 nosewheel was a problem requiring the nose held high on landing until enough airspeed was bled away, but that also resulted in nose abruptly dropping at stall, rattling a few teeth if not managed well.

    The B-24 nearly always broke its back when ditching - from Ball turret through trailing edge of wing. The B-17 was very stable in ditching and normally stay on surface for some reasonable time.

    Sounds like I favor the B-17 but objectively the B-24 was a 'better' heavy bomber, the B-17 was great and more fun to fly but less versatile giving fewer options for tactical missions.
     
  13. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    Wasn't the MkVI a B-24J? If so the operational ceiling was ~ 28,000 feet. The B-17G had 35,000 feet ceiling. All variants of the B-17 had exceptional top speed and ceiling with the B-17G being the slowest of them all.

    From a spec standpoint the B-17G was only 3 mph slower at 287mph but the B-24J cruised 30mph faster.
     
  14. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Messages:
    13,090
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Platonic Sphere
    neither, they were designed for medium/high and high altitude. equally as easy to bring down by the LW in 44-45 there was no preference by them. both bombers did the job well in their roles played. you can easily argue this one till your eyes pop
     
  15. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,857
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Texas
    Both were great bombers in my opinion. Is there a marked difference in survivalibilty from flak damage?
     
  16. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
    Messages:
    14,953
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    model builder
    Location:
    Revis Island.
    Yea. B-24 couldn't take nearly as much damage as a B-17 could. My dad went to an airshow and asked a pilot about a B-24 he said "Great plane, but when all power is lost the glide slope is just as good as a brick."
     
  17. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    41,775
    Likes Received:
    687
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A&P - Aircraft Technician
    Location:
    USA/Germany
    Both were great bombers but I think I have to go with the B-17.

    The reason I go with it is because even though overall I think the B-24 was a better bomb platform, the B-17 in my opinion had the best overall combination of performance, bomb load, defensive firepower and being the most rugged (ability to absorb damage). Of course this is only when comparing the two. Like I said I think the B-24 was overall a better bomber, but the B-17 combined all the wanted traits the best.

    I do however agree with Erich that this kind of thing can be debated day and night and never really come to a real conclusion. In the end both bombers did there jobs really well.
     
  18. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    Messages:
    4,182
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Retired from Verizon Communications - Now Working for Point Lobster Company, Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ
    Location:
    Jersey Shore, USA
    Even though I had a family member who was a B-24 pilot (my father's brother), I'll go with the B-17. Both heavies had their pros and cons. Like Erich said, this debate will go on forever.

    One thing though, from pilots I have talked to, it seems that the 17 was a much easier aircraft to fly.

    And of course, as I have stated numerous times in other threads, it's my all time favorite airplane.

    TO
     
  19. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Messages:
    6,977
    Likes Received:
    570
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Bioinformatician
    Location:
    Dordrecht
    I was wondering if the defensive firepower was such a big deal. Does anyone know if the B24 suffered more on un-escorted missions than the B17?
     
  20. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    19,419
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Location:
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
    Strange poll. The best American heavy bomber of the war was hands-down the B-29.
     
Loading...

Share This Page